All posts by Red

The Definitive Guide to Breakfast in Tokyo

Lauderdale's Souffle - it is a must - nothing else like it in Tokyo
Lauderdale’s Souffle – it is a must – nothing else like it in Tokyo
Despite being a city that prides itself in being a gourmand’s heaven, for some reason Tokyo is quite an underperformer when it comes to breakfast options. Now don’t get me wrong, if you are looking for a quick and healthy bite on your way to work for less than 500 yen then there are a plentitude of options. I have certainly been known to stop by Dotour or even the odd Kissaten (喫茶店, old school Japanese coffee house) but how many places can you tell me that offer a decent sit-down breakfast that you would feel comfortable taking your beloved girlfriend, better-half or even the kids?

My wife and I love any excuse to get out of the house early, and on a special occasion we will often eat out for breakfast. If you’ve ever tried to Google “Tokyo breakfast” or “Tokyo brunch” then you will sympathize with my plight. Continue reading The Definitive Guide to Breakfast in Tokyo

JS Group – Do you know them? You should.

Lixil CompaniesPop quiz: Name a Japanese company with a US educated CEO.

Better yet, name one with a CEO and a Chairman who both have MBAs from different, well respected US Universities? Let’s narrow it down a little further for you with another hint: the company makes a habit of hiring “rejects” from other companies into its management team.

So how many of you are assuming that I’m talking about a little dot com that you’ve never heard of? What if I told you that the company has sales of 1.3 trillion yen and probably made either your toilet or your bath!?

Continue reading JS Group – Do you know them? You should.

Getting an iPhone 4S in Japan: SoftBank or au-KDDI… or?

iPhone 4s - SoftBank or auThe iPhone landscape has changed somewhat over the last few days. Finally now we have a choice other than SoftBank if we want to own an iPhone. For some of us the fact that we needed at least 24 months remaning on our visa to sign up for their 2 year contract was the killer. For others it was the rumors of poor network coverage or just the desire to wait until the spec was a little closer to the Android phones. If you haven’t got an iPhone yet, it is easier now. But which provider is the best deal? Softbank or au by KDDI?

The short answer boils down to two key factors. If your decision is purely driven by money, the answer is Softbank. But, if you are a heavy user or you just hate waiting for web pages to pop up then I hate to say it but you should probably be going with au. Below I’ll walk you through some of the other differences and throw in another option to include, and help you come to your own verdict.

The price issue is simple. With au, it costs you an extra 500 yen each month on your “all you can chew data” set. Depending on a the model you choose it might also cost you more to purchase the iPhone itself through au. If you are transferring to au from another carrier and satisfied with the most basic iPhone (16GB) you will end up with Continue reading Getting an iPhone 4S in Japan: SoftBank or au-KDDI… or?

Eat more salt! Are you getting enough while in Japan?

Salt - Are you getting enough?
Salt - Are you getting enough?
Who was it that made salt the scapegoat in the worlds rush to explain the cause of high blood-pressure? Sure scientists have proven that cholesterol is bad, but where is the definitive research proving that salt is the culprit? The reality is that we, as a species, have increased the incidence of a plethora of other health worries after we starting playing games with the mineral balance in our salt intake. We – especially those of us on a Japanese diet – should be going out of our way to take more salt and definitely should ignore the MLHW’s advice to keep our salt intake below 9g/day.
Think that sounds a little controversial? Not according to Yoshiaki Murakami (村上譲顕) who has spent his entire adult life researching the health benefits of salt and swears by Continue reading Eat more salt! Are you getting enough while in Japan?

Daddy-san (part 6): Fun for Kids in Tokyo – Tropical Botanical Gardens

Yumenoshima - Likely the only tropical waterfall in Tokyo
Yumenoshima - Likely the only tropical waterfall in Tokyo
I will freely admit that I was clutching at straws as I tried to excite myself about our plan to visit a botanical garden built on an reclaimed island created by years and years of Tokyo rubbish. But – believe it or not – by the time I got home after sundown, I was really impressed with my trip to Yumenoshima (夢の島). My pocket was a mere 250 yen lighter for the pleasure and my son went to bed with a huge smile on his face. I could highly recommend visiting all of the facilities on Yumenoshima, but particularly the Tropical Botanical Gardens (夢の島熱帯植物館) was fantastic. It smashed my (low) expectations. The gardens are inside a huge hot house they are also perfect for a cold or rainy day when you don’t have anywhere else to go!

Continue reading Daddy-san (part 6): Fun for Kids in Tokyo – Tropical Botanical Gardens

Daddy-san (part 5): Car Safety – the state of child seat use in Japan

Daddy-san Series - Childseat usage in JapanIn part three of this series, I wrote a bit about travelling with a baby in Japan on planes. The big form of transport that I didn’t mention was cars. I’d never felt the need for owning a car in Japan until I had a baby but recently I’ve been starting to think that it would be a nice addition to the family. Besides the fact that it would make bringing nappies home from the local supermarket a lot easier, it would make domestic travel just that little bit smoother. We’ve been able to get around a reasonable amount with a combination of rent-a-cars and taxis when we haven’t been able to use trains (or boats or planes), but the reality is that it is just not as safe or convenient as having your own car with a fitted baby seat. Continue reading Daddy-san (part 5): Car Safety – the state of child seat use in Japan

The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 5 – Yokoji Hamburger Utsubo Koen

Mince Cutlet Burger - Yokoji Hamburger Utsubo Koen
Mince Cutlet Burger - Yokoji Hamburger Utsubo Koen
Tasty hamburger joints in Japan are quite elusive. As anybody who has made the mistake of typing in the word “hamburger” and their local address into a google map search will vouch (yes, all you get are a bunch of McDonalds), there doesn’t seem to be a particularly easy way to find them. I’ve found that the only way of finding a tasty hamburger joint is by finding a reliable hamburger connoisseur. While my repertoire is still growing, I’ve found that a quick explanation of my culinary heaven at Awajishima Burger (if you haven’t yet, you can read about it here is enough to get any hamburger addict talking. And so it was, while speaking to a fellow Hamburgerer, that I bribed my way into discovering Yokoji Hamburger.

Even Osaka, despite its size, doesn’t have a very large selection of authentic burger joints. As my local informant was reluctant to give up too many details, I was quite keen to check out Yokoji for myself and see how it measured up to Awajishima and the other burger joints in our series so far (#2, #3, #4).

Continue reading The Quest for Japan’s Best Hamburger: Part 5 – Yokoji Hamburger Utsubo Koen

Gaishi Entrepreneur #1 – What’s in a company name?

what is in a company name? you can't have a blank business cardThinking of starting up your own company in Japan?  Why not, Japan is the home of the small enterprise.  The tax system is set up to promote large tax holidays for owners of small businesses and there doesn’t seem to be much of an expectation from the tax office that you even need to break a profit.  I was surprised at how simple it was to start up a company when I inked the papers at the local government offices last year here in Japan.  There are plenty of under-worked book keepers willing to weave through the bureaucracy and just tell you where to sign.  The only two things that you really need to give thought to is the name of your new baby and which town you would like to establish her in.

Continue reading Gaishi Entrepreneur #1 – What’s in a company name?

Fujitsu CEO Nozoe Kuniaki blackmailed into resigning (Japanese Corporate Governance Watch)

Nozoe Kuniaki (野副州旦)
Nozoe Kuniaki (野副州旦) ousted former President of Fujitsu
How can the CEO of a 1.2 trillion yen company (13 billion USD!) can get blackmailed and forced to quit at the whim of one or two old cronies on his board?  To put this in perspective, despite being a truly global company with a strong international brand name, Fujitsu is the 40th largest company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.  While I knew that Japanese companies have never really taken the concept of corporate governance on-board, I had thought that at least the top one hundred listed companies in Japan would have had some understanding of fiduciary duty.

Over the weekend it has emerged that Nozoe Kuniaki (野副州旦), the financially savvy president of Fujitsu, who “resigned due to health reasons” (病気療養 byoki ryoyo) back in Sep ’09 was actually blackmailed into resigning by Akikusa Naoyuki (秋草直之), another former president of the company.  note: Akikusa is famous for destroying 91% of shareholder value during his five year reign at the top of Fujitsu and blaming it on his employees who “don’t work hard enough”. Continue reading Fujitsu CEO Nozoe Kuniaki blackmailed into resigning (Japanese Corporate Governance Watch)

Daddy-san (part 4): Immunising your child after arriving in Japan

Vaccinations in Japan are different than in the West
Vaccinations in Japan are different than in the West - there are important points that you should know, because your Japanese doctor may not.
For most long-term parents of children in Japan, there is little to consider when it comes to vaccinations. The Japanese government immunises the population against the primary diseases in Japan and so long as you’re here in the long-run then you’re not going to give it a second thought. Unfortunately, things are not so simple for families who shift to Japan in the first six months after their child’s birth. When we came to Japan six weeks after my son was born in Hong Kong, we discovered pretty quickly that immunisation schedules don’t conform to any international standard and continuing vaccination programs that were begun overseas isn’t straight forward. Hopefully this article saves a bit of stress of other young families that have recently moved to Japan. It’ll probably also be of interest to any parents keen to immunise their children against some diseases that aren’t part of the standard program for Japanese children. Continue reading Daddy-san (part 4): Immunising your child after arriving in Japan